Jean-Louis Palladin (1946–2001) was a bolt of lightning on the American food scene—a French chef who understood America, cooked for Americans, and won their unqualified acclaim. He knew and loved their food, explored and revelled in their pantries and their gardens, and delivered excitement that went far beyond the dutiful respect accorded to the excellent but too-often tradition-bound French restaurant food of his time in the US.
Born and trained in France, Palladin came to the United States in 1979 and opened a high-exposure restaurant in the Watergate apartment complex in Washington, DC, showcasing imaginative work using products from American sources—Maryland crabs, eels from Maine, California oysters, local wild greens and mushrooms.
In 1989 the distinguished Washington photographer Fred Maroon, a devotee of Jean-Louis at the Watergate, persuaded the chef to assemble a brilliant book featuring his work and displaying it dramatically—glowingly lit from beneath and appearing as fresh and alive as it had been five minutes out of the kitchen.
One can hardly characterize the range of dishes. We could cite a three-melon consommé with sauterne, julienned vegetables and mint; a salad of morels stuffed with Louisiana Crawfish; prime rib with bone marrow flan, confit of onions in red wine, and sage potato chips; chestnut souffle with poached pears, apples, and peaches. The book, arranged seasonally, was a sensation from the beginning, lauded for both its exciting dishes and the new way of showing them to dazzling advantage.
Palladin closed the Watergate restaurant after several years but at the same time expanded to a new locale in Washington and to one in Las Vegas. He was the James Beard Outstanding Chef of the year in 1993 and on everyone’s list as the tastemaker for his decade. Struck with lung cancer, he died at 55, a blow to the entire industry
His book, Jean-Louis: Cooking with the Seasons, originally published by Thomasson-Grant was taken over by Lickle Publishing in 1997 in a virtually identical form and with equally superb production values. In a strikingly large format (over 10” x 14”), it remains a prize with place in virtually any significant cookbook collection.
There have been many spectacular looking celebrations of chefs’ work since that time, but this remains a model of creative energy—for both its culinary content and its artistic excellence.
Our copy is of the Lickle edition, signed by Palladin. There is very light shelfwear to the case and jacket along the bottom edge, and the fore corners are lightly bumped. There is a small closed tear to the rear top edge. Otherwise in superb condition.